Amir Timur shaped the cityscape of Samarkand like no other, so it is not surprising that he had the Bibi-Khanym Mosque built. With the order for the construction of the mosque in 1399, Timur wanted to award a sign of his power in Samarkand.
During the following years, Timur was mostly away on campaigns. Probably his main wife Sara-Molk Khanym supervised the construction works during his absence.
At the same time, she had a madrasah built opposite the mosque, of which only a dome has survived today. This is called the mausoleum of the Bibi-Khanym.
The name Bibi is an expression for an adorable woman in the Persian language. In this case for an elderly woman, who Sara-Molk Khanym was at that time already. The legend made a young woman in love out of it, who made the mosque a gift to her husband.
From the forecourt of the mosque one also has a good view of the Hazrat Khizr Mosque, with the President’s Tomb in front. Hazrat Khizr was a down-to-earth Muslim prophet.
When Timur saw the mosque for the first time in 1404 shortly before its completion, he was disappointed by it and had many changes made. These changes affected the statics of the building. In spite of the numerous improvements made to the statics, the first bricks fell out of the dome after only a few years.
In the course of the centuries, the mosque dilapidated more and more. The population used it as a storage for building material.
Beginning of the 20th century, the Russians started with first securing measures. But the Uzbek government had restored the building only at the end of the century.
Today, Bibi-Khanym Mosque almost shines again in its old splendor. It impresses by the skills of the architects and craftsmen, as well as by its incredible dimensions. Both the entrance gate and the domed structure of the mosque are over 40 m high.
An old picture inside the mosque shows the ruins in their deplorable state before the restoration.
Directly next to the mosque, a wide three-aisles gate leads to the Siyob Bazaar. It is the largest bazaar in Samarkand and offers all kinds of food and goods for everyday use.
The beautiful, fresh and dried fruit, as well as the offered vegetables are impressive.
But also the flatbread is known, which is called Naan here. It is baked in a tandoor over an open fire. We have already seen the same production method in Osh, Uzgen, and Karakol. The open baking method gives the bread its typical taste.
Please read on > By High-Speed Train from Samarkand to Tashkent
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